PURITAN ZEAL

Puritan Zeal
By Anonymous on Feb 05, 2016 @MEET THE PURITANS

Christian zeal [is] indeed a flame, but a sweet one; or rather it is the heat and fervor of a sweet flame. For the flame of which it is the heat, is no other than that of divine love.
—The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 2: Religious Affections, ed. John E. Smith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959), 352.
Many churches today are looking less like armies engaged in war and more like people taking a nap. Who among us hasn’t seen this decay? Who cannot see a difference between the ancient church and us? In former days, a fire burned within Christians, but our hearts seldom, if ever, burn within us. Formerly, Christians seemed driven by a holy passion, but now little seems to motivate us. Christians of old were at war with their sin and strove for holiness by heavenly strength, but we seem to tolerate sin rather easily and are satisfied to do the minimum of what God requires of us.

What has happened? God did not change; the power of salvation did not change; the call to holiness did not change; the threat of the enemy did not change. So why are so many Christians drowsy rather than being on fire for God? John Reynolds (1667–1727) once asked,
How long shall we lie still under our formal complaints of the decay of Christian piety? How long shall we idly see the retirement of warm religion from the hearts and bosoms of its professors? Are we willing to yield to all the lukewarmness and degeneracy that has overspread us? [Even] the truly pious are dull and heavy in their religion, [and] march on wearily in their appointed race, as if either their Lord had lost His glory or His promise to them; or they [have lost] their faith and hope in Him…. Is it not time to proclaim among the churches, the message of the Mediator sent from heaven to the Church of Laodicea: Be zealous and repent?

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—John Reynolds, Zeal a Virtue: Or, A Discourse Concerning Sacred Zeal (London: John Clark, 1716), 1-2.

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